CFL Free Agency: Day 1 Recap

CFL Free Agency: Day 1 Recap

After sitting dormant for over a year, the CFL is starting to ramp up their preparations for the 2021 season that would begin in June if everything works out perfectly. The day was full of signings, and if you are like us, you may have missed a couple of them. Here they are in all of their glory.

Micah Johnson (DL) – Saskatchewan Roughriders

The 32-year-old Johnson is back in Riderville for a second time after being with the B.C. Lions for what would have been the 2020 season. Johnson brings plenty of experience to the Riders’ defensive line with 96 career games. He has registered 45 sacks in his time in the CFL. In 2019 with the Riders, he had four sacks and 26 tackles in 15 games.

Shaq Cooper (RB)- B.C. Lions

Cooper was one of the more highly-touted running backs in this free agency class, and he was scooped up by the B.C. Lions before too long. He spent 2019 with the Edmonton Football Team. In seven career games, The 27-year-old has rushed the ball 90 times for 496 yards and two touchdowns.

Stefan Charles (DL) – Ottawa Redblacks

Charles spent the 2019 season of the Edmonton Football Team, the team who drafted him 10th overall in the 2013 CFL draft. He spent seven years in the NFL, most notably with the Buffalo Bills from 2013-2015. In that time, he played 49 games and picked up five sacks. Charles is 6’5 and 323 pounds. If all things work out right, he could be the anchor the Redblacks need on the interior of their defensive line.

Almondo Sewell (DL) – Montreal Alouettes

Sewell will venture out of Edmonton for the first time in his career in hopes to create a dominant defensive line in Montreal. Sewell has been in Edmonton since 2011. In 139 games with the Edmonton Football Team, he made 282 tackles and sacked the quarterback 60 times. There should be lots of Sewell jerseys flying off the shelves in Montreal.

Nick Usher (DL) – Montreal Alouettes

Usher is one of the CFL’s up-and-coming defensive stars, and he too will be heading to Montreal in hopes of continuing his success. In his first full season, Usher recorded six sacks and 36 tackles in 18 games in 2019. Prior to that, only eight games are under his belt. The Als have bolstered their pass rush plenty early on this offseason, and it might open things up for Usher to let loose and put up some huge numbers in 2021.

Kevin Brown III (LB) – Edmonton Football Team

Brown was the odd man out in Ottawa’s crowded linebackers room, and he has ended up where many former Redblacks have landed in the past, in Edmonton. Brown, a friend of the show, saw his role diminished in Ottawa last season, but was solid when he did play. He has 42 games of CFL experience to his name. In those games, he has 112 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and 37 special teams tackles.

Evan Johnson (OL) – Saskatchewan Roughriders

Johnson is heading back to Saskatchewan for the first time since his college football days where he played for the Saskatchewan Huskies. The Redblacks drafted Johnson with the ninth pick in the 2017 draft.

Jordan Herdman-Reed (LB) – Saskatchewan Roughriders

Jordan Herdman-Reed is one of the twins heading to Saskatchewan in the opening day of free agency and has spent three seasons in the league with the B.C. Lions. The 26 year-old bring 95 tackles, 44 specials teams tackles and 52 games of CFL experience to the table. Herdman-Reed has also recorded three sacks in his young career.

Justin Herdman-Reed (LB) – Saskatchewan Roughriders

No, you aren’t seeing double. Justin Herdman-Reed is the second of the twins that signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on day one. Justin has a little less CFL experience in the games played department with only 40 games in his three seasons with the Toronto Argonauts, but he had a solid season in his first real playing time in 2019. He made 37 tackles in his 11 games. It will be interesting to see what kind of dynamic the Herdman-Reed twins have this season in Saskatchewan.

Larry Dean (LB) – Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Herdman-Reed twins will share a linebackers room with veteran linebacker, Larry Dean. The 32 year-old has the ability to disrupt a team’s game plan and has done so plenty in the past. He took what could be considered a little step back with the Edmonton Football Team in 2019, at least statistically, but he still registered 86 tackles and a sack. In his four seasons in the CFL, Dean has just six sacks, so he will be looking into adding some more.

Natey Adjei (WR) – Montreal Alouettes

Adjei had been used primarily as a special teams player before the 2019 season, but he looked to have plenty of promise when used as a receiver last season. In 2019, Adjei was targeted 75 times by Edmonton quarterbacks. He caught 58 of those passes for 534 yards. He also scored two touchdowns. If put into a good situation, Adjei could be primed to be a surprise.

John White (RB) – Toronto Argonauts

The Argos continued with the big splashes by adding the most productive running back available in John White. He eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the first time in a season in 2019 with the Lions, and at the age of 29, there should be plenty more in the tank. With some of the weapons that are starting to assemble in Toronto, it should take some pressure off of their new signal-called in Nick Arbuckle.

Michael O’Connor (QB) – Calgary Stampeders

The Canadian quarterback that everyone is talking about these days is heading to the place where talent grows on trees, and of course, were talking about Calgary. It’s hard to think of a better landing spot for O’Connor when it comes to being mentored by Bo Levi Mitchell, potentially the best to ever do it in the CFL. Don’t expect to see O’Connor in much game action in 2021, but as it stands right now, he is likely their backup.

James Wilder Jr. (RB) – Edmonton Football Team

The Edmonton Football Team continues to bring in some big-name players, but Wilder Jr. can be described as hit or miss right now. He was the most outstanding rookie in the CFL in 2017 in a year that the Toronto Argonauts won the Grey Cup, but since then he has been some what disappointing. He will be looking to make up for some lost time in Edmonton, and with the offensive line they have built, he could once again be dangerous out of the backfield.

Godfrey Onyeka (DB) – Saskatchewan Roughriders

Saskatchewan was back at it again by adding Onyeka late in the day. He has been used mostly as a special teams player in Edmonton and lacks the CFL experience yet, but he does come with the perk of being Canadian. Let’s see how much playing time is headed his way.

Don Unamba (LB) – Ottawa Redblacks

One of the Redblacks bigger signings in 2020 re-signed with the team for the 2021 season. Unamba is coming off a shortened 2019 season where he was only able to play 12 games, but he was averaging half a sack per game before his season ended. He is a dynamic play maker and should help stabilize the Redlacks defence.

Lucky Whitehead (WR) – B.C. Lions

The former member of the Dallas Cowboys came to the CFL in 2019 and put on a show with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Whitehead had 521 receiving yards and 596 yards on kickoff returns. He scored four touchdowns in 2019 and showed promise. He is one of those players who might be able to have a massive 2021, especially with a player like Mike Rielly at the helm in B.C. This is one you should be excited about, Lions fans.

Patrick Levels (LB) – Montreal Alouettes

Levels is yet another young talent to change hands this offseason. The Baylor product has spent three seasons in the CFL, but 2019 with Montreal was really when he came into his own. After signing with Hamilton for the 2020 season, Levels is back where he made his name. With 86 tackles and five sacks in 2019, it’s only the start of Levels’ career in the CFL.

Chris Ackie (LB) – Montreal Alouettes

Ackie is back in Montreal for a third sting with the team starting in 2021. After being traded to Ottawa and signing with Toronto previously, is this the time Ackie can settle into a big role with the Als? He has played his best football in Montreal, so you would have to expect that trend to continue, right?

Michael Wakefield (DL) – Montreal Alouettes

Antonio Pipkin (QB) – Toronto Argonauts

Lorenzo Jerome (DB) – Saskatchewan Roughriders

Ciante Evans (DB) – Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Jon Ryan (P) – Saskatchewan Roughriders

Chris Rainey (RB) – B.C. Lions

Kelly Bryant (QB) – Toronto Argonauts

Mike Benson (LS) – Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Taylor Cornelius (QB) – Edmonton Football Team

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